Azure Parrotfish, Scarus compressus
The Azure Parrotfish, Scarus compressus, whose common Spanish name is loro chato, is a species in the Parrotfish or Scaridae Family, known collectively as loros and pericos in Mexico. Globally, there are sixty four species in the genus Scarus, ten of which are found in Mexican waters, six in the Atlantic and four in the Pacific.
The Azure Parrotfish have deep compressed bodies. The females and males of the initial phase (IP) have brownish heads. Their brown coloring extends into the first half of the body and transitions to blue green in the second half. They have dark brown lines radiating from their eyes and several vertical rows of diffuse bars on their flanks. The terminal phase (TP) males are green with scales having an orange brown outline; their eyes have radiating spoke-like bands. The juveniles are similar to the initial phase fish but lack the blue green coloration on the rear of their body. The head of mature adults has a slight hump. They have prominent parrot-like teeth in the front and one or two canines on the rear of their top jaw. The anal fin has 3 spines and 9 rays; the caudal fin is slightly concave; the dorsal fin has 9 spines and 10 rays; and, their pectoral fins have 14 rays. Their body is covered with large scales and the lateral line is broken with two parts.
The Azure Parrotfish are found in and around rocky coral reefs at depths between 10 and 85 feet. They reach a maximum length of 68 cm (27 inches). They forage during the day, feeding on algae and corals. The Azure Parrotfish They are a rare and poorly studied species and very limited information is available about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Azure Parrotfish are found in all waters of the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from Magdalena Bay northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja.
The Azure Parrotfish is very similar to and easily confused with the Bluechin Parrotfish, Scarus ghobban (15 pectoral fin rays).
The Azure Parrotfish are considered excellent food fish due to their white meat and are sold commercially in most of the major markets in the greater Los Cabos area. I assume that these commercial fish are caught by fishermen utilizing nets.
Azure Parrotfish, Scarus compressus, initial phase (IP) female transitioning to a terminal phase (TP) male. Fish caught by a spearfisherman in Loreto, Baja California Sur, January 2014. Size: unknown. Photo courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Loreto.
Azure Parrotfish, Scarus compressus, terminal phase (TP) male. Fish collected at sea off Puerto Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, October 2006. Length: 61 cm (24 inches). Identification reconfirmed by H.J. Walker, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.
Azure Parrotfish, Scarus compressus, terminal phase (TP) male. Fish caught by a spear fishermen in coastal waters off Bahia de La Ventana, Baja California Sur, October 2014. Length: 68 cm (27 inches).